Glaucoma tests at polyclinics, gene therapy research, announced at launch of new eye health centre

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SINGAPORE - Eye-care kiosks will be set up at more polyclinics to make them the first stop for common eye diseases like glaucoma and cataracts.

Functioning like self-checkout kiosks in supermarkets, these eye-care booths will collect data about a patient’s eyesight before sending it to an ophthalmologist off-site for diagnosis, helping to save time and cost.

The kiosk is currently being piloted at Pioneer Polyclinic, but is expected to be rolled out to two to three more polyclinics by the end of the year.

It was one of several initiatives announced at Saturday’s launch of the new Centre for Innovation and Precision Eye Health in the National University Health System (NUHS).

The initiatives aim to make diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases more accessible and affordable. 

The centre’s focus ranges from the detection and treatment of common age-related diseases such as glaucoma, to genetic degenerative eye diseases which may only afflict one in 30,000 people. 

Around 180,000 people above the age of 60 have some kind of visual impairment, said Professor Cheng Ching-Yu of Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) in the National University of Singapore (NUS).

With Singapore’s ageing population, this figure is expected to double by 2030.

Prof Cheng, who is the centre’s director, said these impairments often end up being undiagnosed as most Singaporeans are unaware of eye diseases.

Some patients may also be put off by the inconvenience of requiring a referral from a polyclinic before waiting to be assessed by an eye specialist.

“Our goal is to implement and improve ocular health screening in the community, and we want to detect and treat in a timely way patients who are not aware that they’re losing their sight,” said Prof Cheng. 

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